MR. CONSISTENCY: So far in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE team have been a model of consistency. After eight races, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has spent 1,764 laps running inside the top 10 – the second-most in the field behind only points leader Denny Hamlin (1,936). Of those top-10 laps, 753 have been inside the top five, which is the sixth-most of all drivers. Currently, Byron has led 138 laps across four races, also good for sixth in the Cup Series. At 8.87, he has the fifth-best average running position so far in 2021.
STILL STREAKING: Dating back to his win at Homestead- Miami Speedway on Feb. 28, Byron has been on a hot streak of top-10 finishes. Prior to this current streak, Byron’s Cup Series best was three consecutive finishes in the top 10, which he accomplished twice. The 23-year-old driver has now doubled that amount after his fourth-place finish Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, extending his consecutive top-10 finishes to six races – the longest active streak in the Cup Series. Byron’s six total top-10s are the second-most by a driver this year behind only Hamlin (seven).
READY FOR RICHMOND: Sunday’s race at Richmond Raceway will mark Byron’s sixth Cup Series start at the .75-mile track. He currently has a personal track-best finish of 12th coming in April 2018. Aside from his five Cup starts, Byron has made two NASCAR Xfinity Series appearances at the Virginia track, both in 2017. He earned a best starting position of sixth and finished seventh in the fall. He also has one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start in 2015 when he won the pole and finished sixth.
SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS: With two short-track races completed so far in 2021, Byron is one of five drivers who have finished in the top 10 for both. He secured a sixth-place effort during the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt event and a fourth-place finish Sunday at Martinsville. In fact, Byron’s two consecutive top-10 finishes have him tied for the third-longest active top-10 streak on short tracks.
MOMENTUM AT MARTINSVILLE: Starting third at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday night when the Cup Series took the green flag, Byron ran inside the top five early before handling woes dropped him back to sixth as the red flag came out for rain. When the race resumed Sunday afternoon, Byron was able to score points in both stages of the 500-lap event. Continuing to improve throughout the race, Byron surged to the front of the field as the laps wound down, scoring a fourth-place finish at Martinsville and extending his string of consecutive top-10 finishes to six.
THE FUGLE FILES: Despite an extensive résumé in NASCAR, Sunday’s event at Richmond Raceway will bring unknowns for crew chief Rudy Fugle. Making his first Cup Series start at the .75-mile track, Fugle has only three previous starts at Richmond – one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and two in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While both of his Xfinity starts came in 2010, Fugle’s most recent race at the Virginia short track was last year in the Truck Series where his driver started third and finished 18th.
LIBERTY U ONBOARD: Picking up a fourth-place finish last Sunday, Byron will look to keep his top-10 streak alive when the No. 24 unloads at Richmond Raceway with Liberty University onboard his Chevy. Redesigned for the 2021 season, the new paint scheme features a white base with navy flames and red accents, the Liberty University No. 24 will be sure to stand out on track. Liberty University has a long history with Byron starting back in 2014 in the late model ranks. Liberty University has been Training Champions for Christ since it was founded in 1971. Located in the mountains of Central Virginia, Liberty is a liberal arts institution with 17 colleges and schools that offers more than 600 degree programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, on campus and online. Working on an undergraduate degree in communications, Byron is in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program. For a better look at Byron’s new Liberty University paint scheme, click here.
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the characteristics of Richmond Raceway: “I think Richmond is really its own beast. It’s similar to Atlanta with the surface but then you have aspects that are similar to Phoenix as well. It’s really just its own animal. It’s a very low grip track with even lower grip in the race car than it looks. Plus, it’s always a challenge to manage the throttle there. Sometimes you’re running half-throttle down the straightaway just to keep the tires under it later on in a run. It’s just a challenging place.”
Byron on the racing at Richmond during the day: “I’m interested to see what this weekend’s race will be like. Normally, we run at Richmond at night, so it’s going to be a different challenge this year racing during the day. It’s already so low on grip that you’re going to be moving around no matter what. I feel like the track is going to change a lot as the race goes on as well. It’s going to be a learning curve as the run goes on to keep up with what your car needs.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on approaching tracks with limited experience: “This weekend will be a track that I don’t have a ton of experience at as a crew chief but I don’t think it changes much on how we approach things. Every weekend, I’m still learning whether I have one start or 12 at a track. I think, honestly, most people do that. You lean on your team members, you lean on your teammates and you lean on what you know. Thankfully, last year the No. 9 team ran well basically everywhere, and if one weekend they were a bit off, then you had the No. 88, which is the No. 48 now, that ran well. You use their notes and sim time to try and hit your balance. So far, I think it’s been really good. The biggest thing to our advantage is my experience with William (Byron). We’re able to communicate really well. I understand what he’s trying to tell me about the car in the way he explains things. There’s no language barrier or trying to understand one another. I already know most of that when it comes to William, and I think that’s helped us when it comes to setting the car up and making changes throughout the race.”